black&write! Writing Fellowships

Each year black&write! offers two Fellowships for unpublished manuscripts by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writers. 

The winning Fellows work closely with black&write! editors to develop their manuscripts for publication. We are proud to work with our publishing partner, Hachette Australia.

Congratulations to our 2021 black&write! Fellows

Tylissa Elisara

Tylissa is a children’s social worker who lives and works on Gimuy Walubara Yidinji land in Cairns with her husband and young family. She descends from the Narungga, Kaurna and Adyamathanha people of South Australia and was born and raised on Mamu Country in Innisfail, Queensland – a heritage, alongside her Irish ancestry, she proudly regards as a long legacy of storytelling and resilience in the face of adversity. Tylissa has long enjoyed reading classic novels to her children and, after returning from maternity leave with her youngest in late 2019, she started working at a school where she regained her love and inspiration for writing. Tylissa has since pursued postgrad studies in writing at UQ in hopes to further develop this passion.   

“…Winning the black&write! fellowship…was everything I could have hoped for and more. To be validated for my writing, and to perceive it as a potential career was just mind-blowing. It may seem cliché, but even the stars seemed different that night [I received the call]. Like I was looking at them through a new lens: one of hope and purpose. I felt I could literally touch them if I wanted to and now back in the real world, I still don’t think I’ve fully processed it all.” 

Inspired by the classic children’s books Winnie the Pooh and Fantastic Mr Fox, 'Wurrtoo', Tylissa’s winning manuscript, follows a beautiful tale of a wombat who is in love with the sky. On his journey to reach the sky, Wurtoo meets friends like Kuula the Koala and connects to the animals he’s avoided for many years. This story is funny and quirky with timely environmental themes running throughout! 

Susie Anderson

Susie Anderson writes from the nexus of compassion and resistance. Her poetry and nonfiction are widely published online and in print, such as in Archer Magazine, Artist Profile, Artlink, un magazine, Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia and in many poetry anthologies. In 2018, she was runner-up in the Overland Poetry Prize and awarded the Emerging Writers Fellowship at State Library Victoria; in 2019, she was awarded a Writers Victoria Neilma Sidney Grant and a recipient of the Overland Writers Residency. In 2020, she edited the online journal, Tell Me Like You Mean It Volume 4, for Australian Poetry and Cordite Poetry Review. Her professional practice is as a digital producer in the arts and creative industries ranging from Sydney, London and Melbourne. Leveraging her position within institutions, she attempts to bring about change by uncovering and amplifying stories from her own and other communities. Descended from the Wergaia and Wemba Wemba peoples of Western Victoria, she currently lives on Boon Wurrung land in Melbourne. 

“Over the summer of 2020-21, I was encouraged to submit again by the competition organisers, so I opened up the old entry and reread it. With time and space, I could more clearly see threads and connections between the different sections that I hadn’t seen before.... There’s still work to be done, but I feel that this reworked collection with its old and new pieces shows the breadth of my writing and uses different voices and characters to reflect on themes of place, culture, memory, loss and love. I feel really proud that I gave the work time to get to this place and that I didn't give up on them.” 

'the body country' is a stunning poetry collection which explores land, memory, love and art. These universal themes are played with, and connected by, meditative asides threading through the different sections. The Indigenous language words used in 'Chorus' are from the Wergaia language of north-western Victoria.  

Highly Commended List  

  • Georgina Williams for 'Mekauwe = tears vol. #1'
  • Melissa Stannard for 'Yarrimali baarray - Spill pour, crack split open'
  • Kylie Henry for 'Beautiful, Black & Bipolar'
  • Jessika Spencer for 'Blooming'

black&write! Writing Fellowships

Two winners will each receive:

  • $10,000 prize money
  • manuscript development with black&write!
  • publication opportunity with Hachette Australia

Fellowship recipients will be expected to work co-operatively with the black&write! editors through to the completion of their manuscripts.

Who can enter?

The black&write! Writing Fellowships are open to all writers (published and unpublished) of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent currently living in Australia. The Fellowships are open to:

  • adult fiction,
  • young adult fiction,
  • short story collection,
  • poetry collection, and
  • children’s book manuscripts.

Entries must include a Confirmation of Aboriginality Form/ Letter of Confirmation with a common seal from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander incorporated community organisation. There is no entry fee.

Please download and read the Entry Guidelines for the full conditions of entry.

The 2022 Fellowship will open later this year. 

Selection process

  • The Fellowships will be awarded by State Library of Queensland on the advice of a judging panel with extensive knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing.
  • Every eligible entrant will receive individual feedback comments on their manuscripts. Due to the number of manuscripts received the judges cannot provide a detailed manuscript appraisal.
  • The judges’ decision on the eligibility of an entry will be final.  Judges may invite entries for consideration.
  • No correspondence will be entered into once the decision has been announced.
  • All entries must be kept by State Library as a record and will not be returned to the applicant (including manuscripts and CD/USB submitted for judging).
  • State Library reserves the right to:
    • not accept any ineligible, incomplete or late entries
    • not award a Fellowship during a particular round.

Find out more about submitting to the competition

If you have any questions, please email black&write! or call 07 3842 9985.

black&write! is supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, The Lionel & Yvonne Spencer Trust and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. We are proud to work with Hachette Australia as the black&write! Fellowship publishing partner.

Past winners

Discover past Fellowship winners and their publications.

Editing Internships

Read about our internships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander editors.


Discover the books black&write! has helped publish.